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College Repub­licans hosted Sen. Shirkey last week. MATT FISHER | COURTESY

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R‑Clarklake) blasted Michigan Democrats at an event hosted by the Hillsdale College Repub­licans, describing Demo­c­ratic members of the leg­is­lature and Gov­ernor Gretchen Whitmer as “on the bat-sh*t crazy spectrum.”

To begin, Shirkey dis­cussed his career as a small business owner prior to serving in the state leg­is­lature. To this day, he con­tinues his work in the private sector while also serving his con­stituents back home. 

“I was too old for Vietnam and too young for every­thing else,” Shirkey said. “So I had to find some other way to serve. That is not to compare my career with the enormous sac­ri­fices of our ser­vicemen and women, but we all have an oblig­ation to do our part to con­tinue this exper­i­men­tation of self-gov­er­nance. And if not, shame on us.” 

Shirkey then switched gears and dis­cussed Michigan pol­itics. In par­ticular, he explained the con­tinuing battle between the Repub­lican-con­trolled leg­is­lature and Demo­c­ratic Michigan Gov. Whitmer. The source of the con­flict, Shirkey argued, came from a dis­agreement over how to tackle infra­structure reform and the budget appro­pri­a­tions. 

“I pleaded with her not to tie road funding to the overall budget,” Shirkey said. 

He argued that both should have been addressed indi­vid­ually. 

In time, Gov. Whitmer even­tually agreed to sep­arate the two. But as Shirkey put it, “this left us with no options,” as only two weeks stood between Michigan and a budget shutdown. 

Shirkey admitted that, due to time con­straints, the leg­is­lature could not involve Gov. Whitmer in the process of budget allo­ca­tions. But he went on to ridicule Gov. Whitmer for taking the line-item veto pen to numerous pro­vi­sions and turning to a 98-year-old law to satisfy her desire for more infra­structure funding. 

“She exer­cised her veto pen and did an unprece­dented number of 147 line-item vetoes,” Shirkey explained. “In response to the passage of the budget, she tapped into a very obscure 1921 law that gave the gov­ernor the power to transfer money within budgets.” 

He con­cluded his remarks con­cerning the budget fight by deeming Gov. Whitmer’s actions as “rash political mis­be­havior” and warned that many in his caucus were fed up with attempts to strike a bipar­tisan tone. When asked whether or not he felt pressure from Repub­lican col­leagues to tow a hardline against Gov. Whitmer, Shirkey acknowl­edged patience is wearing thin within the Repub­lican Party. 

“The pressure is building and it will con­tinue to increase and it will affect people dif­fer­ently,” Shirkey stated. “My gov­ernor has the two Demo­c­ratic cau­cuses fairly locked up. They sit around and wait for her to call them and tell them to do this or do that.” 

Aside from the Michigan leg­is­lature, Shirkey also devoted time to answer ques­tions con­cerning national pol­itics. When asked his thoughts on the impeachment hearings in the United States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Shirkey defended Pres­ident Donald Trump and cri­tiqued House Democrats for their han­dling of the sit­u­ation.

“We are going through ‘kabuki’ theater on impeachment,” Shirkey said. “It hurts my heart to see our pres­ident under attack, but it also hurts my heart to see our insti­tu­tions under attack.”

Reaction to Shirkey’s speech was pos­itive.

“I think it’s great to have the Senate majority leader because as aspiring statesman, we need to balance the con­cerns of indi­viduals with the con­cerns of lead­ership,” said Sec­retary of College Repub­licans Brandt Siegfried.